Heirs of the original settlers of Baguio led the celebration of the 14th Ibaloy Day on Feb. 23 in commemoration of the 1909 landmark United States Supreme Court decision granting Mateo Cariño the Native Title in due recognition of the original indigenous inhabitants of the now multi-cultural city.
With the theme, “Bendisyon nen Kabunian so ni Ivadoy, mantudtudoy (The blessings of the Almighty to the Ibaloys pours continuously)”, Ibaloys from Baguio and nearby towns of Benguet, along with agencies and local government units, paraded down Session Road to the Ibaloy Heritage Garden at Burnham Park for the whole day program.
Onjon ni Ivadoy, Inc. President Maximo Edwin Bugnay, Jr. said the celebration helps to preserve the rich culture and tradition of the Ibaloys, who are considered the original settlers of the city once called Kafagway.
“We celebrate the Ibaloy Day every 23rd of February to remind us, Ibaloys here in Baguio City, that we are still here existing,” Bugnay said.
During the parade, Ibaloy clans and organizations proudly donned their devit and bahag and ethnic-inspired clothes while others rode on horses with their cowboy hats and boots, while onlookers at Session Road stopped to take their photos.
Participants and guests also experienced the cañao during program that jumpstarted with a thanksgiving ritual followed by the tayaw and butchering of pigs, while camote and coffee was served followed by the watwat at lunch time.
The celebration was also marked by the recent acceptance of the city government of Baguio of the first Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) to the city council in the person of Bugnay Jr.
Bugnay said as an IPMR, he wants to push for the full re-cognition of the Ibaloys over their ancestral lands. This could also be achieved if the city would soon fill up the vacancy on IPMRs in all the barangays, which is also required by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
He said an election would be conducted soon to take his place in the Onjon as he already started attending the city council sessions as one of its ex-officio members.
As an Ibaloy IPMR, he assured his service will include all indigenous peoples and cultural communities of Baguio City.
Onjon adviser and University of the Philippines Baguio Professor Jimmy Fong said the Ibaloy’s assertion of their native lands still has a long way to go.
“The Native Title of course, belongs firstly to the Cariño family of Baguio. So, this is significant. We don’t want to miss out on this. IPs in other countries are using this doctrine to fight for their own ancestral lands. Unfortunately, we are having difficulties in the Philippines in using these doctrines to assert ancestral claims on their own lands,” Fong said.
He said the IPs assertion of native lands could be achieved through their respective IPMRs. He hopes concerned LGUs would recognize the IPMRs as legitimate representatives of the people in the law-making processes of each respective legislative bodies.
Fong said the selection of an Ibaloy as the first recognized IPMR of Baguio is an assertion of the fact of the history of the city that started out as an Ibaloy community.
The Native Title or Cariño Doctrine refers to the Feb. 23, 1909, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized the native rights of Ibaloy chieftain Mateo Cariño over cattle lands, which were expropriated by the American military in 1903.
The Cariño Doctrine is being used by other countries in Asia, New Zealand, Australia, among others by indigenous peoples and aborigines to assert their rights over their ancestral lands. – Ofelia C. Empian